If you’ve ever lived or traveled around Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay chances are you’ve patronized at least one of the hundreds of establishments selling the state’s iconic crabs. Whether it be a shack, bar, or restaurant most people have definitive opinions of where the crème de la crème of shellfish can be found and/or which the best local joint for enjoying them is. For our money Liz and I prefer the simplest of crab shacks where there’s a counter, limited outdoor seating, and an establishment focusing on doing one thing and doing it exceptionally well. And that’s why if we’re making a trip to eat crab our only destination is Stevensville Crab Shack.
Located on Kent Island, MD, a short drive across the Bay Bridge from Annapolis, Stevensville isn’t necessarily the friendliest of locales for those living in the Baltimore or DC areas. Traffic and the current $6 bridge toll encourage most people to remain on the western side of the Chesapeake for their crab. But for those brave souls willing to expend the time and funds to cross the bay, Stevensville is akin finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Situated off highway US-50 and across the street from the Bay Bridge airport owners Bob and Cheri Wittman welcome local residents and distance travelers alike with a warm and welcoming hospitality rarely scene nowadays. New customers are treated like good friends and regulars like family as they order off a menu ranging from a variety of local seafood to homemade soups and salads.
Of course the primary draw of Stevensville are the crabs. Delivered fresh multiple times a day from local watermen, they’re seasoned with an Old Bay based family recipe, cooked to order, and served in a steaming hot large brown paper bag. The crabs themselves are fresh, tender, sweet, and exploding with juicy flavors…everything thing the aficionado craves and the novice quickly learns to appreciate. And as with eating any crabs cracking, pounding, and extracting the meat is messy rewarding work that requires the proper ice cold beverage. To that end the shack has you covered with the proper selection of palate cleansing suds available by the bottle or six pack (fyi…six packs are significantly cheaper).
While the crabs are and should be the focal point of any journey to Stevensville, one’s experience is only heightened by additional tasty offerings like deep fried clams, crab fluffs, “shack wings,” and even deviled eggs all prepared from tried and true family recipes. Though we have yet to sample everything on the menu, the items we have had are just as deliciously satisfying as the crabs. Our personal favorites include the deep fried oysters and a cream of crab soup that is especially welcome late in the season on chillier days.
Not surprisingly we, like so many other customers, have become so enamored with the shack that we’ve literally developed a gluttonous routine for every visit:
- Order crabs.*
- Grab a six-pack of Landshark Lager and bag of Utz’s Carolina Style Bar-B-Q flavored potato chips.
- Settle down on an outside bench and prepare for the coming crabbiness by consuming the beer and chips.
- Arrival of butcher paper to the cover the bench top along with mallets and knives signals the coming of the crabs.
- Crabs arrive…often with a few extras thrown in.
- Rip open the bag, start busting shells and savoring the sweet crabmeat.
- Determine which additional menu item(s) can/should be ordered per amount of room available in stomachs.
- Continue gluttony until we’ve died happy.
Overly indulgent, yes. But Bob and Cheri’s combination of hospitality and great food is the reason Stevensville Crab Shack satisfies your soul and keeps you coming back for more. It’s the reason they’ve been in business since 1998 and why one visit will likely make you a loyal patron too.
*One piece of advice: since Stevensville’s crabs are in high demand, consider ordering ahead…even when eating at the shack.
Meet Bob, Cheri, and their shack:
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